Everyone keeps talking about reading 50 or more books every year. In fact, Darius Foroux was reading 100 books a year = 2 books every week. Of course, he now admits to forgetting them as well.
I know what that’s like, because I’ve gone through the phase of devouring the latest best-selling self-help book and then moved on to the next.
But then, back in about 2007 or 2008, I decided to do something different. I was curious about finding Wisdom, and I actually read the book of Proverbs (yes, the book of the Bible called Proverbs) 12 times that year. Proverbs has 31 chapters, making it a great daily read for a month – one chapter a day.
In 2018 and 2019, I read and did all the practices of “The Magic”, by Rhonda Byrne six times. The first time, I was part of a Mastermind that was doing it over 28 days. Then I reread and redid the daily practices myself two more times in the following two months.
A few months later, I created a 28-day challenge for a group of friends, and we did it all over again. Then, in 2019, I kick-started January with the 28-day challenge, and then did a second 28-day challenge later on in the year. All with the one book about gratitude.
What an amazing change I’ve noticed in my daily attitude to gratitude. It’s easy to notice things to be grateful for. Saying “thank you” comes naturally – not from good manners, but because I am truly thankful.
At the beginning of 2019, I decided I would not buy any new books until I had finished reading all the books I already had!
The Japanese have a word for this.
Tsundoku = acquiring books but letting them pile up in your house without reading them!
That’s me. Piling up the books that I intend to read, and not getting around to it because I have new books that also need to be read.
Admittedly, I usually have four or five books on the go at a time, but this year I wanted to delve deeper into books I had already read and glean all the benefits of rereading.
The hidden benefits of rereading
One of the most obvious benefits of rereading a book is that you are no longer the same person that read that book the first time. Consider any great book that you have read, whether fiction or non-fiction. How much have you grown and changed since you read it?
Context is everything – where you are at in life will change how you relate to what you are reading.
Also, consider what skills or behavior you want to master. It’s not enough to reread any book – you want to choose your books with intention. What do you hope to achieve and learn by rereading this book? What is your purpose for going back to this particular book and author?
Re-reading is about self-reflection, awareness and consciousness.
In the end, quality is more important than quantity. It’s not how many books you’ve read – it’s how many books have you read, put into practice, and noticed true transformation happening in your life?
What you experience the second time through
When you come back to a book for the second time, you might discover that there is so much you forgot. You recall it quickly, as you read it. But, if you experience is anything like mine, you wonder to yourself “I thought I had already learned this”, and then realize you only acquired the head knowledge.
You didn’t actually apply it in your life.
In fact, it’s quite possible that you forgot most of the book in the first 24 hours after you read it, if you didn’t do anything further with what you read.
If you’re reading fiction, you are probably also more focused on the characters and the events than the nuances of the story and dialogue. It’s only when you return to the book a second or a third time that you actually take the time to glean the benefits of growth and self-reflection.
Now, when I am reading a book, I allow myself to highlight, underline and make notes in the margins.
I know – I used to consider it sacrilege. Then, I realized that I learn best when I am doing that… and so I buy my books (where possible) second hand. That way, I don’t feel so bad about underlining and notes. But I know I’m going to come back through the book a second and a third time (at least) and will also make more highlights and notes as I go.
Give yourself permission to notice what is different the second and third time through. What didn’t you get the first time?
The third time through the book
By this stage, hopefully you are beginning to grasp how to apply what you are learning to areas of your life – not just the direct application, but the extrapolation of ideas to other aspects of life.
Consider, when you are rereading the book – are you focused and intentional? Do you actually pay attention as you are reading?
Perhaps, at this stage, you have started to make your own notes and integrate the knowledge. Personally, I prefer to journal about what I am reading, after I’ve done the reading and not having the book in front of me.
Find the system (or systems) that actually works for you.
What about rereading the same book 100 times?
The author and columnist Stephen Marche once wrote about two books that he’s read more than 100 times a piece. I admit, for me, that feels like overkill, particularly as both books are works of fiction.
But, as he points out, you reach a level of ease and power of confidence with the books that comes solely from familiarity. You get past the newness and start to settle into knowing exactly how it goes.
Mastery, if you will.
Now, I admit, I don’t do this… and yet I have been experimenting with putting on an audiobook overnight of the book that I am reading, listening to it two or three times a week while I sleep, and allowing it to sink deep within my subconscious.
I‘ve never read a book 100 times to be able to tell you how much it can transform your life, but I can imagine you would internalize it into your way of thinking and acting.
Learning versus knowledge
In the end, what we seek as we reread is to glean the secrets of a remarkable book. But not merely to have read them and have the dopamine rush of new information, but to truly be transformed in what we say and do by the reading.
Learning is defined as a change in behavior. You haven’t learned a thing until you take action and use it.Ken Blanchard
The beauty of the rereading is internalizing the knowledge to such an extent that it transforms how we respond in life. Where we make mental links, effortlessly, with what we are doing and experiencing.
Where you have rebuilt the neural pathways of your mind to such an extent that you can truly say you’ve been transformed by the secrets learned.
Participating in our book club
One of the things I’ve introduced for members of DiscoverYourPathU this year is a book club in which we read books slowly. If there are 8 chapters to the book, we read it over 8 weeks. A chapter each week. And we meet up once a week to discuss the chapter, its application in life and how we plan to use the information learned in our lives.
So far, in 2019, we have only done two books:
- It’s Not Your Money – by Tosha Silver
- Think & Grow Rich – by Napoleon Hill
For this second one, I admit it’s my second time through the book in 2019. I bought the book in 2018 and finally got around to reading it earlier this year.
Now, we are going through it, two chapters each week. What we’ve discovered, now that we are half way through it, is that this was too fast! We should have kept to one chapter a week! But we wanted to wrap it up before Christmas.
In 2020 we will kick start the year off reading Think & Grow Rich again. This time, simply going through one chapter each week and truly diving into the application of the book in our lives. For me, this will be the third time through. For others, it might be their first time, or they might already have read it three or four times.
We will also read mBraining, by Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka, as well as Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler.
Will you join us?